If I was wicked I meant to be wicked to some purpose.
Marilla, walking home one late April evening, realized that the winter was over and gone with the thrill of delight that spring never fails to bring to the oldest and saddest as well as to the youngest and merriest. Marilla was not given to the subjective analysis of her thoughts and feelings. She probably imagined that she was thinking about the Aids and their missionary box and the new carpet for the vestry-room, but under these reflections was a harmonious consciousness of red fields smoking into pale-purply mists in the declining sun, of long, sharp-pointed fir shadows falling over the meadow beyond the brook, of still crimson-budded maples around a mirror-like wood-pool, of a wakening in the world and a stir of hidden pulses under the gray sod. The spring was abroad in the land and Marilla’s sober, middle-aged step was lighter and swifter because of its deep, primal gladness.
I love these vivid landscapes, particularly because I know just what it all looks like. But Marilla’s disappointed when she finds the homecoming not quite so idyllic, since Anne has vanished when she’d told her to stay put and mind the house. She’s left to stew as she prepares dinner, still with no sign of Anne.
Then she discovers her in bed.
“Anne Shirley, what have you done to your hair? Why, it’s green!”
“Yes, it’s green,” moaned Anne. “I thought nothing could be as bad as red hair. But now I know it’s ten times worse to have green hair. Oh, Marilla, you little know how utterly wretched I am.”
“I little know how you got into this fix, but I mean to find out,” said Marilla. “[…] I’ve been expecting something queer for some time. You haven’t got into any scrape for over two months, and I was sure another one was due.”
She confesses to dying her hair.
“Well,” said Marilla sarcastically, “if I’d decided it was worth while to dye my hair I’d have dyed it a decent color at least. I wouldn’t have dyed it green.”
“But I didn’t mean to dye it green, Marilla,” protested Anne dejectedly. “If I was wicked I meant to be wicked to some purpose. He said it would turn my hair a beautiful raven black – he positively assured me that it would.”
It turns out Anne fell victim to a sketchy pedlar. But in one aspect at least he told the truth about the dye – it was fast, sticking to her hair despite constant washing. After a full week shut inside in washing her hair, Marilla finally concludes that the only solution is to cut it all off.
“Please cut it off at once, Marilla, and have it over. Oh, I feel that my heart is broken. This is such an unromantic affliction. The girls in books lose their hair in fevers or sell it to get money for some good deed, and I’m sure I wouldn’t mind losing my hair in some such fashion half so much. But there is nothing comforting in having your hair cut off because you dyed it a dreadful color, is there?”
As with fainting, I imagine losing her hair to a fever would be a far less romantic experience than she thinks…
“I’ll never, never look at myself again until my hair grows,” she exclaimed passionately.
Then she suddenly righted the glass.
“Yes, I will, too. I’d do penance for being wicked that that way. I’ll look at myself every time I come to my room and see how ugly I am. And I won’t try to imagine it away, either. I never thought I was vain about my hair of, all things, but now I know I was, in spite of its being red, because it was so long and thick and curly. I expect something will happen to my nose next.”
Well, as long as you don’t try to “improve” it, I expect your nose will be fine.
She returns to school with a buzz cut, but her classmates never guess the ordeal she went through. Josie Pye calls her a scarecrow, but she accepts the snub with no more than a withering glare, because she did bring it on herself.
Next time: An unfortunate lily maid…